Friday, November 02, 2007
The Turn of the Screw
One of the best things about a ghost story should be the lighting, and thankfully I have nothing but praise for Karl Chmielewski's thick-shadowed design in Jeffrey Hatcher's stage adaptation of The Turn of the Screw. But unfortunately, I have nothing else positive to say about this Wake Up, Marconi! production: Don K. Williams allows the actors to prance about the stage with broad strokes and as a result never gets anywhere near the specific tension that Henry James's novel tried to conjure up with symbolic ghosts and unreliable narration. It's not an easy adaptation to do, especially since "The Man" (Steve Cook) plays everything from an old maid to a precocious child, but it's made worse by adding verbalized sound effects (whispered footfalls and creaks). The script has some merits to it -- the dialogue it has added to James's rambling text is, at times, punchy -- but delivered as it is by a creepy Cook and his overdone counterpart, Melissa Pinsly, it's hard to see the ghost story as anything other than a comedy.